Bridget McCrea, editor at Logistics Management Magazine, brings to life an very interesting story about how trailer yards have become a vey important part of inventory visibility across the supply chain. To illustrate her story, she writes about Cummins, Inc. and how PINC Yard Management System was a game changer for the heavy manufacturing company.
As a manufacturer of power solutions, Cummins, Inc., makes everything from diesel and natural gas engines to hybrid and electric platforms. It also makes the related technologies, including transmissions, battery systems, fuel systems, controls, air handling, filtration, emission solutions, and power generation systems. Headquartered in Columbus, Ind., the global company was using a YMS that included a map of its yard that enabled the manual movement of trailers and the checking in and out of those assets.
Every piece of information had to be entered manually, according to Rebecca Koch, transportation manager for the company’s Memphis DC, which meant that the yard manager had to perform a yard check a few times a day, update the system, and then provide a yard snapshot at that point in time to different teams. “Since the snapshot would be outdated almost instantly,” Koch says, “the different operations teams had to perform yard checks as well.”
|“We’ve eliminated the majority of foot traffic on the yard by providing real-time information of what’s out there” Rebecca Koch, Transportation Manager at Cummins Inc.|
As part of that yard management approach, drivers were given devices that enabled direct communication with the transportation team. “When a driver received a move request, the first step was to locate the trailer,” Koch says. “Because there was no real-time tool, at times the driver had to go around and search for it. Once located, the asset had to be moved in a specific door, but the door may have already been occupied.”
In those scenarios, the driver would either have to call back and request a different door or find one and then let the team know where the trailer had moved. During peak times, drivers would have to remember multiple moves and the order in which to move them. “When there were multiple drivers during peak times, the workload among drivers was unevenly balanced,” says Koch. “This setup leads to confusion and a lot of unnecessary phone calls, and ultimately slowed down operations.”
To fix these problems, Cummins sought out a YMS that required little manual intervention that used RFID to give different teams the exact location of assets in real-time, and without having to physically check them. Koch says the company selected passive RFID for its cost-effectiveness because, during frequent trailer moves, the RFID would provide up-to-date location information. As an added bonus, batteries wouldn’t have to be switched out as often as they would with active RFID.
Today, Cummins is using the PINC Yard Management System to track trailers/containers on the yard; to confirm/deny detention invoices; to schedule appointments; for yard mule movement and productivity; to evaluate the number and schedule of yard drivers based on actual movement data; and to move trailers/containers in and out the door.
Drivers use the YMS to see trailers that need to be moved in the work queue; purchasing can see if their trailers are out in the yard, and operations can see if the equipment is available and how many trailers need to be unloaded.
“The YMS has been a game changer, we’ve eliminated the majority of foot traffic on the yard by providing real-time information of what’s out there.”
The company has also reduced the yard checks to just one that’s performed by transportation to update manual errors and ensure data accuracy.
“Instead of having to call drivers, they have computer equipment installed in the yard mule that shows when move requests have been entered as a work queue, which also improves communication across shifts,” says Koch, whose team enjoys the reporting capabilities of the YMS. For example, if asset moves are taking too long, she can now pull data for the past month, quarter, or even year and compare if there has been a change.
“If the volume has gone up, we can determine if there has been a shift in peak time and adjust our drivers’ schedules,” says Koch, “or if it has been an overall steady increase, we can justify adding headcount.”
And because PINC’s YMS is a web application, that information can be accessed on a smartphone at any time. “Moving from having to wait for a physical yard check,” says Koch, “to being able to get accurate information instantly any time has been a big leap.”
Read the original article at Logistics Management Magazine.